Sunday, June 12, 2011

Derrick Brown

Derrick Brown + Poetry = Performer Extraordinaire!
Recently, Emmy and I had the wonderful opportunity to read and review two new books by
an amazing independent publishing company named Write Fuzzy. I just love their tagline, "The books we wish we had when we were kids." Write Fuzzy is part of Writebloody Publishing - an independent literary press (think mission-driven not market-driven) whose mission is to bring the spoken word to the masses.

Derrick Brown, a writer of poetry and performer of his original works, is also the man behind this mission. "Brown was seeing young, smart, page savvy poets, prose writers and poetry performers sell out shows, with only self-published, junky looking books available for sale." By bringing works by these important and often neglected authors/performers to the widest possible audience, Brown and his hard working staff of artists, authors, poets and performers hope that going to a reading will be as common as going to the movies or to see a band. In Brown's own words, "...he is dedicated to bringing American poetry into rock and roll status." I think Writebloody is on the right track and am very excited to watch as this movement soars across the United States and continues throughout the world.

Derrick Brown has recently ventured into writing books for children, which Emmy and I discovered when Write Fuzzy sent two books in a big envelope addressed to her! Emmy was over the moon when she received the package. Getting mail is one of her favorite things. I explained to Emmy that we were to read the books and give our opinions of them on our blog. Emmy took this job very seriously. She immediately sat down and looked through both books carefully. She then asked me to read them aloud. I usually like to read new books first before reading them to Emmy, but with her excitement building who could wait!

The first book we read was Valentine the Porcupine Dances Funny written by Derrick Brown and illustrated by Jenny Lewis. Emmy LOVES to dance so she LOVED this book. She thought Valentine looked so cute in her red polka dot shoes and matching bow in her prickly hair. She felt empathy for Valentine as she struggled to find a friend that would dance with her. Many of the other animals that Valentine meets thinks she is strange and are not always nice to her. "Valentine is just plain silly. Valentine is kooky. Valentine is willy-nilly when she shakes her booty!"

However, with her mom's loving support, "Strange is cool, Valentine, I hope you never change?" Valentine sets off to find to find someone who would dance with her and share their heart with her. Who she finds makes Emmy laugh and laugh - it's someone else with prickles and pokers just like her - a blowfish! "I knew that if I waited, I would find a special friend to laugh between the butter flowers and dance along the wind."

Take a look at...The Art of Valentine the Porcupine Dances Funny - Artist: Jenny Lewis

The second book we read was I Looooove You, Whale! written by Derrick Brown with illustrations by Amanda Atkins. This one definitely needed to be read first to understand the story and be able to read it aloud with the appropriate voice. Emmy and I both love Beluga Whales, which is the type of whale that the boy, Steven, befriends in this story. When we finished reading, we began singing Baby Beluga, a song by Raffi, that we have sung together since Emmy was a baby. Emmy thought it was amazing how Steven became friends with a whale and would love for that to happen to her one day. In fact she said, "Wouldn't it be so cool to swim with a whale in the deep blue sea."

I liked how the book addressed the important issue of keeping the ocean and beaches clean. Emmy and I often talk about how it is our job to take care of our planet, the creatures and plants that live here, and to also take care of each other. Whenever we are at the beach, Emmy notices and picks up any trash that she sees. It is her mission (and mine, too) to keep our beaches clean!

Thanks to Derrick Brown's inspiration, Emmy has put together her own short spoken word performance titled "The Woods."

My dad, Emmy's Papa, was self-employed and owned his own painting and wallpaper hanging business (as in exteriors and interiors of houses) for many, many years. From him I learned how important it was to support local, independent businesses and I express this to Emmy whenever we visit our local shops and farms. Emmy and I hope you feel the same way and will support independent authors, artists and presses. Be sure to check out Write Fuzzy, Writebloody Publishing and The Poetry of Derrick Brown.